Friday, September 30, 2016

Happy 23rd Birthday Baby Girl~

It's true what they say, "The days are long, but the years are short."

It seems like just yesterday you were sitting on the front steps crying because "the mean yellow skoo bus took your sissy away."  You hated that she got to go to school and you were left behind without a playmate.

Well, it wasn't long before you too were riding that big yellow bus and entering Kindergarten.

And, that is when time really started to fly...

Before we knew it you had finished Kindergarten, then Elementary school.  Middle school came all too quickly.  And just like that, you were a Freshmen in High School.   

I remember praying with my Core Group at church your Junior year about college choices.  They still remember.  So when I now tell them you are months away from graduating from GRAD school, they just cannot believe it.  Sometimes I can't either.

Life has not always dealt you a kind hand.  You spent two of your high school years when you should have been loving life, with debilitating migraines.  Missing over 50+ days of school.  But, you still managed to graduate with honors.

You went on to do great things at Baylor, and in just 3 short years graduated again with honors.

And, just a few short months from now...I have NO DOUBT you will do it again at Tennessee.

The best part is getting to see all of your dreams come true.  You've worked hard, held your head high, persevered when times got tough, and have continued to be a light to Him and all those you come in contact with.

We could not be more proud of you and the woman you have become.   We cannot wait to see what God has in store for you in the coming years.  We know your gonna do great things.

Love you to the Moon and Back!
Mom, Dad, and Sissy

You can also find me over at Amanda's Dixie Delights today, where I am sharing a yummy recipe for Ribeye Steak with Chimichurri Salsa.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Summer Fresh Corn and Zucchini Chowder

Yes, I's now officially fall.  But, this chowder is perfect for cooler months as well.  It is very hearty.

My youngest shared this recipe with me after raving about it.  She was is delicious.  We've adapted it to make it dairy free.

Summer Fresh Corn and Zucchini Chowder


1 TBS butter (we use Earth Balance dairy free)
2 strips bacon, chopped (hubby said to add more next time ;-)
1 C chopped yellow onion, about 1/2 large onion
2 celery ribs, chopped (1/3 cup)
1 medium carrot, peeled + chopped (1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 medium (1 lb) russet potatoes, peeled, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
4 ears of sweet fresh corn, husk + silk removed and kernels cut from cob (2 3/4 cup corn) *we used a bag of frozen
1 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup half and half (our daughter used coconut milk, we used flax milk)
salt and fresh ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
cayenne pepper, to serve, optional (it adds a nice kick)


1. In a large heavy-duty bottom stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium-heat.  Add bacon and cook until bacon, renders its fat and begins to brown, about 3-4.
2.  Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and thyme; cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring a couple times, about 5 minutes.
3. Add potatoes, water, and bay leaf.  Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat back to medium, and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are halfway cooked.
4. Add zucchini and corn; season with salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for additional 8-12 minutes or until the vegetables are completely tender.
5. Discard the bay leaf and then transfer 2 cups of chowder to a food processor or blender; puree until smooth.  Stir the mixture back into the pot.  Add half and half (or substitute) and cook just until heated through.  Taste for salt and pepper.
6. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley and sprinkle of cayenne pepper, optional.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sweet and Sticky Chicken~

The name says it all...sweet, sticky and oh so yummy!  The combination of molasses, ketchup, honey and maple syrup make for a great fall dish.  I love that the vegetables are cooked in the same pan, making this a one pan meal.

Sweet and Sticky Chicken


2 carrots, cut into 1" pieces
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1 onion, cut into 1" pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
4 pieces chicken (your choice, we chose thighs)
2 TBS molasses
2 TBS ketchup
2 TBS honey
2 TBS maple syrup
1/2 TBS Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 TBS butter, cut into small pieces (we use Earth Balance dairy free)
1 TBS cornstarch + 3 TBS water (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In an 8x8 oven-proof dish, layer the vegetables.
2. Combine the molasses, ketchup, honey, maple syrup and all seasoning in a medium bowl.  Place chicken in a separate bowl.
3. Add about 1/4 cup of liquid mixture to the chicken and stir to coat well.  Place chicken and the sauce it was in on top of the vegetables.  Place butter on top of chicken.
4. Bake for 25 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat remaining sauce in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl.
5. Add cornstarch slurry to sauce and stirring constantly bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
6. Add this thickened sauce to the top of the chicken and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  You might need to remove the chicken so it doesn't overcook, yet continue to bake the vegetables until they are done. (this will depend on the chicken pieces you use)
7. Enjoy the sweet and sticky chicken!

Original recipe can be found here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


I am sure those of you who are on Facebook have seen these.  The test that finds your life quote. Many have shared their results, and have found the quote chosen for them could not be more perfect. I have to agree.

Over the years, I have experienced the hurt that comes with trying so hard to retain certain relationships, mostly friendships, only to find that I am the only one "trying".  With age comes wisdom, and I have to agree with the quote below. Those who cherish and value you as a person and friend will ALWAYS keep a place in their heart and lives for you.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Paleo Short Ribs with Garlic and Rosemary~

While the temperatures here are still not cooperating, we did usher in the first day of fall with a yummy fall dish.  Y'all these short ribs are melt in your mouth good!

Paleo Short Ribs with Garlic and Rosemary


2 1/2 pounds Beef Short Ribs, bone-in
Coarse salt and pepper, to taste (we use sea salt, and omitted the pepper because apparently I am highly sensitive to it, go figure!)
2 TBS olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 TBS tomato paste
3/4 C red wine or beef broth
1 1/2 C beef broth
4 rosemary sprigs


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a ceramic coated cast iron pot (we love our Staub dutch oven).
3. Coat the short ribs in coarse salt and pepper and place in the hot pan.
4. Cook until deep golden brown and then flip each piece over and brown on the other side.
5. Remove the ribs from the pan to a plate.
6. Add the onion to the hot pan and saute until onion is translucent, 4-5 minutes.
7. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
8. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 30 seconds, coating the onion.
9. Add the red wine, if using, and let it reduce by one half.  Add the beef broth and bring to a simmer.  If you are not using the wine, simply add in the beef broth and bring to a simmer.
10. Put the short ribs back in the pan.  Toss in the rosemary sprigs, cover with a lid, and place in the preheated oven.
11. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until ribs are fall off the bone tender.
12.  Serve over polenta or a vegetable puree, such as parsnips or cauliflower.  (we served alongside dairy free mashed potatoes)

The flavors are amazing, and the meat seriously falls off the bone and melts in your mouth.


The original recipe can be found here. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Perfect Fall Recipe~Balsamic Roasted Pork Chops

Happy first day of Fall Y'all!! 

While the temperatures here in the south my not be cooperating, we are just gonna roll with it.

Fall is the perfect time to try some new recipes.  With cooler temps arriving or not , I think we all get a sense of wanting to cozy our nest, snuggle up with a good book, watch a new tv series (gotta say we are loving Designated Survivor!) and turn to a little comfort food.

This recipe is the perfect fall dish, and quite easy to prepare.  And let me just tell you, it is so flavorful and your kitchen will smell heavenly while it is in the oven roasting! 

Balsamic Roasted Pork Chops


4 bone in pork loin chops (1-1 1/2 inch thick)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 TBS fresh rosemary, diced
1 TBS butter (use ghee for paleo and whole 30, or dairy free)
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 TBS honey


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Evenly sprinkle each side of pork chops with salt, pepper and rosemary.
3. In a large heavy oven safe skillet, add butter and olive oil over medium high heat. (you don't want oil popping but your chops should sizzle immediately when you add them)
4. Add chops to skillet and cook until browned 3-4 minutes, flip and cook until the other side is browned.  Remove and set aside on a plate.
5. In the same skillet, add onion and toss in juices to coat and brown.  Cooking for a minute, add vinegar and honey.  Sauce will sizzle and bubble and should start to cook down.  Reduce heat if you have too much splattering.
6. Return chops to the pan; and place pan in oven to cook for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of chops.  You want the internal temperature of your pork chops to be 145 degrees.
7. Remove from oven, plate and spoon glaze and roasted red onion over top of chops.

We served alongside tri-color carrots. While you could certainly chop and saute your own, we chose the frozen bag from Whole Foods and microwaved.  Keep it simple and quick, my friends.

The original recipe can be found here.

Linking up with the lovely ladies for Thoughts of Home on Thursday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Honey Garlic Shrimp and Jasmine Rice

Sometimes you just need a quick, easy meal to throw together on a weeknight.  But, that doesn't mean it needs to come from a box or lack flavor.

This easy shrimp dish takes 20 minutes tops to prepare, and is packed with flavor.

Honey Garlic Shrimp

Serves 2


1 lb of raw tail on shrimp (remove tails)
2 TBS honey
1/4 C of soy sauce (or coconut aminos or liquid aminos for gluten free/soyfree)
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 tsp of fresh grated ginger
fresh chopped coriander (cilantro or Chinese parsley)
black pepper
spray oil


1. Whisk the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and black pepper together in a bowl.
2. Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat, spray with oil.
3. Add the shrimp and pour in the sauce.
6. Cook until shrimp are cooked through, and the sauce has thickened.
7. Sprinkle with fresh chopped coriander (cilantro/Chinese parsley).
8. Serve over Jasmine rice.

Note:  The original recipe found here calls for cooking the shrimp on wooden skewers in the frying pan and brushing the shrimp with the sauce.  We chose to place them directly in the pan and saute in the sauce.

We used the frozen Jasmine rice packets from Trader Joes that can be steamed in the microwave.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Em's Mac n' Cheese~made Gluten and Dairy Free

Let's face it, who doesn't enjoy good ole comfort food from time to time? I bet it is safe to say that Mac n' Cheese ranks right up there on the top of the list of comfort foods loved by all ages.  But, what if you are having to work around food allergies and sensitivities?  Dairy, egg, wheat, gluten, soy to name a few.  Well, my youngest reworked Emeril's Mac n' cheese and created a version that omits all of the above.

Subsititions are in parenthesis.

Em's Mac n' Cheese


6 TBS unsalted butter (we use Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks)
1/2 lb elbow macaroni (we use Tinkyada, gluten free/wheat free)
6 TBS all-purpose flour (Bob's Red Mill or Pillsbury gluten free)
3 cups whole milk (sub coconut milk)
1 tsp salt (we prefer sea salt)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar, about 6 ounces (we use Daiya shreds)
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs (Glutino, or Ian's GF Panko for a bit more crunch)
1 tsp Essence, recipe follows

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

2 1/2 TBS paprika
2 TBS salt (again we prefer sea salt)
2 TBS garlic powder
1 TBS black pepper
1 TBS onion powder
1 TBS cayenne pepper
1 TBS dried leaf oregano
1 TBS dried thyme

***keep extra in a air tight jar or container for future use


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes (will vary depending on pasta used).  Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.

Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown.  Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well.  Add the noodles and stir well.  Pour into the prepared dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese with the bread crumbs and Essence. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes (we found it took a little longer with the Daiya cheese).

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Loaded Taco Soup

Yes I do realize it's Thursday, but this is what we had last night for dinner. So, technically it qualifies for What's for Dinner Wednesday.

With the weather turning a bit cooler hey mid 80s in hotlanta is cool folks I thought it was time to test a few new fall dishes.  And, who doesn't love tacos???  Tacos and soup, perfect fall combo.

This dish is super easy to prepare, but best of all is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free, etc. Perfect for our family with our crazy food sensitivities.  What I love best about this soup is that once the base is made, it is left to the individual to customize it with their favorite toppings.  Perfect for a family get together or tailgating.

Loaded Taco Soup


For the Soup:
1 TBS ghee or coconut oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 bell peppers diced (we used 1 red and 1 green)
2 lbs ground beef (we prefer 90/10 grass fed)
4 TBS chili powder
3 TBS cumin
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder (optional, we chose to include)
2-4 oz cans diced green chiles (we use Hatch brand)
18 oz diced tomatoes
4 cups beef broth (we use Pacific brand)

For the Toppings (all optional):
Dairy-free sour cream
Plantain chips
Chopped jalapenos
Diced red onion
Sliced black olives
Fritos or tortilla strips (gluten free)


1. Melt the ghee/coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. (We love our Staub dutch oven  for soups and stews) Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until slighty softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the ground beef and saute until cooked through. Drain any fat/liquid from the pan.
2. Add the chili powder, cumin, sea salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne to the pot. (We mix our spices ahead of time in a small bowl) Stir well to combine.  Next add the chiles, tomatoes and beef broth and stir once more.  Bring the soup to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Serve with any or all of the toppings listed above. Enjoy!!

To give credit where credit is due, the original recipe can be found here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Butternut Breakfast Bites~

As most of you know, I have been eating gluten free for several years now.  But more recently, I have been trying to eat dairy free and egg free as well.  My youngest is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, peanut free, and for a short time also on a yeast free diet.  I know the first thing that comes to mind is, "what CAN that poor child eat?  We are learning to experiment and try new things.  Something we always loved for breakfast around the holidays, or sometimes for apps, are sausage balls.  Most are traditionally made using flour (which we can sub gluten free for, or gluten free Bisquick) and cheddar cheese (which would could sub dairy free).  But, even gluten free flour has yeast in it.

As per usual, I was searching on Pinterest for new recipes that would work for her diet and mine when I stumbled upon a recipe for Butternut Breakfast Bites.  No flour, no cheese!!

Butternut Breakfast Bites

Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-5


1 lb ground lamb (or pork or beef)  *I chose pork this time around.
1 C cooked butternut squash-mashed (Trader Joes has it already cut up ready to microwave)
10 mint leaves (if using lamb) or coriander/cilantro (with beef or pork)-finely chopped
3 TBS fresh parsley-finely chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt


Preheat oven to 400F/200C
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with your hands until spices and butternut squash are thoroughly mixed through the meat.
Using a small cookie scoop, or your hands, roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and place into mini muffin tins.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and meat is no longer pink in the middle. (I ended up cooking for approx. 30 minutes-will depend on oven and pan you are using).

Hubby tried the first one hot out of the oven and declared, "these won't last long."  Hmmm...might need to stash a few with my Pumpkin Spice Almonds.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Almonds~

Well, it's that time of year!!! Pumpkin Spice everything is back.  I do have to say however, some people/companies have taken it a bit tooooo far with some pretty unappetizing products.

I did stumble upon this recipe on Pinterest, and seeing how our household loves sugared pecans at Christmas time, I knew I had to give it a try.

Warning...they are extremely addictive!  You won't be able to eat just one, so be sure to make a double batch ;-)

Pumpkin Spice Almonds


Pumpkin Spice

3 TBS cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cloves

Pumpkin Spice Almonds

1/4 C water
1/2 C sugar
1 TBS pumpkin pie spice (recipe above-you'll have extra, which will be a good thing because your gonna need it when someone eats the last one and you are craving them, just saying)
1 C whole almonds


Pumpkin Spice
1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl.

Pumpkin Spice Almonds
1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.
2. In a heavy saucepan, combine water, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.
3. Over medium heat bring to a full boil.
4. Add the almonds.
5. Stir until the liquid turns into a syrup coating on the almonds (this happens pretty fast).
6. Pour the almonds onto the baking sheet.
7. Separate the almonds with a fork.
8. Allow to cool.
9. Before serving to the family hide a stash for yourself (you'll can thank me later).

Original recipe can be found here.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hello September~

And just like that it happened, September 1st!!!

Been a bit MIA.

Let's see,

My sweet 96 year old neighbor's basement flooded.

My sweet MIL turned 98!!! And still lives alone (but not for long).

My neighbor moved to Florida, and we are welcoming a new sweet young family to the hood.

I attended "meet and greet" for my annual Bible study, and no, I am not teaching the littles this year (a big change).

My youngest started her last year of GRAD school!!!!! Say what????!!!! Didn't she just graduate from Baylor yesterday?

We sent 38 new Bears to Waco!  Need to check in with those sweet mommas.

My oldest started her 4th year of teaching. Seems like just yesterday she was making a career move.

We will attend her high school's first pep rally and game of the year tomorrow (providing this hurricane stays to the south of us).  Friday night lights, baby!!

August was full of change that's for sure.

Now if only the temperature would cooperate!! Welcome to Hotlanta.